Last Sunday evening, during the Lifetime broadcast of Prayers for Bobby, Exodus Vice President Randy Thomas was (in his own words) wasting 96 minutes of his life watching Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading. Since then he has written about Ted Haggard, and even the weather (twice!), but not a peep about Bobby. I waited to write this because I thought for sure he would come up with something, even if only to complain or feign some sort of lament that Bobby didn’t find the right ex-gay ministry before taking his life.
Prayers for Bobby is a real story — first a book, then twelve years to make the movie happen. In so many ways it illustrateed the pain, conflict, abuse and even misguided love that make up the ex-gay equation. In a small package, it touched on just about everything, even if briefly. And it was broadcast on Lifetime, a relatively mainstream cable network. It brought the subject out for discussion even among some who are not directly involved, but certainly many of us who are did talk about it — it hit us powerfully. This alone should have been enough to bring a response.
Randy Thomas is the Executive Vice President of the largest ex-gay referral organization in the world, Exodus International — the very face of ex-gay. A lot of what he professes to believe was illustrated in the movie. If nothing else, Bobby represents the kind of person Randy claims is most important to him, that he wants to “help.” In every way Randy is connected with this movie, and he has every reason, even if only to disagree with it’s message, to comment about it, or use it to communicate to others.
The same silence came from Exodus’ official channels. There was nothing in their blog, no press release, nothing. In the past they have put out official press releases to announce an event by Focus on the Family, an ABC program on the so called “gay gene debate” and even a simple article by Randy Thomas. Yet nothing at all for a true story dealing directly with ex-gay issues and available to anyone with cable TV service.
Exodus President Alan Chambers also has a blog. He does not post nearly as often as Randy, but he does post. His last real entry was from 3 weeks ago entitled Barack Obama: Anomaly or Anti-Christ? So as we can see, he posts on things far less related to Exodus (and in this case, perhaps less related to reality). But nothing on his opinion of the movie, nothing to assure ex-gays (or those who may be thinking about the prospect) that he might be in touch with what’s going on, that he is willing to deal with the hard issues, or perhaps use this opportunity to express some genuine compassion.
So I sat here thinking, what reason would there be for Exodus to remain absolutely, completely silent about this movie? Randy seems like an exceptionally passive-aggressive individual, so it seems possible that his review of another inane bit of trivia at exactly the time when Prayers for Bobby was showing might communicate some sort of message. Clearly he had the time to write. But not to touch on this event which has so very much to do with the subject of his life’s work, how can this not be intentional? What would be the reason?
Did they perhaps think no one would notice, either the movie itself or their avoidance of it? There seems no explanation except that they wanted to make a statement by not addressing it.
What do you think? And perhaps more importantly, what do you suppose someone inclined to seek out Exodus will take from this? Did they shoot themselves in the foot?